Arizona Hotshots-Memphis Express AAF Betting Guide: Trust Christian Hackenberg to Cover?

Arizona Hotshots-Memphis Express AAF Betting Guide: Trust Christian Hackenberg to Cover? article feature image
Credit:

Courtesy of @TheAAF/Twitter. Pictured: Christian Hackenberg

Betting Odds: Arizona Hotshots at Memphis Express

  • Spread: Arizona -13
  • Over/Under: 46
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET on Saturday
  • TV: NFL Network

Betting market: The Hotshots opened as “just” 10.5-point favorites but are now favored by as much as 13.5 points at some books. The over/under has also been on the move, falling to 46 after opening at 49.

It’s safe to say the public is in full on #FadeHackenberg mode.

Week 1 Takeaways

Arizona’s 38-22 Win Over Salt Lake

  • John Wolford beat out Trevor Knight and immediately seized control of the Hotshots offense. Wolford set week-high marks in yards (275), yards per attempt (9.5), touchdowns (4) and rush attempts (8) among all quarterbacks.
  • The Hotshots easily displayed the league’s most modern offense thanks to their heavy use of tempo, RPOs and pre-snap motion to create advantages all over the field. Wolford’s average time of 2.24 seconds to attempt was easily the quickest release of Week 1.
  • Rashad Ross caught 5-of-7 targets for 103 yards and two touchdowns, with the first coming on a deep ball and the second on a four-yard fade. He’s locked in as the No. 1 receiver, but Richard Mullaney (six targets) and Josh Huff (five) were also plenty involved.

Memphis’ 26-0 Loss to Birmingham

  • Christian Hackenberg actually threw a beautiful 39-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter … but it was called back due to an illegal formation penalty. Hackenberg was otherwise about as atrocious as we thought he would be.
  • Memphis came out in the second half last week with a key adjustment: Run more wildcat. I’m not kidding.
  • Zac Stacy (12 carries-58 yards) was the lone “bright spot” on offense, but even he was forced to split plenty of snaps and carries with the likes of Terrence Magee (5-18), Rajion Neal (3-4) and Anthony Manzo-Lewis (4-14)

Which Team is healthier? Memphis

The Hotshots are apparently reeling on the offensive line. Left tackle Malcolm Bunche, right tackle Brant Weiss and left guard Josh Allen weren’t able to practice on Wednesday. However, each player returned to a limited practice on Thursday. Head coach Rick Neuheisel said specifically, “I think they’ll be ready to go. How much of the game, we’ll wait and see.”

Tight end Gerald Christian is also banged up, but he was at least able to get some work in.

Memphis is believed to be fully healthy.

Key matchup: Memphis’ front seven vs. Arizona’s offensive line

The Memphis defense actually played quite well against the run, holding Birmingham to 86 rushing yards on 35 attempts — good for a week-low 2.46 yards per rush.

Arizona averaged only 3.82 yards per carry and didn’t exactly dominate, but the Hotshots never abandoned the ground game and finished the game with week-high marks in rush attempts (39) and yards on the ground (149).

Strong line play can also help the Express slow down the Hotshots’ high-octane passing offense. Consistent pressure is pretty much any quarterback’s worst nightmare, and the Express racked up the third-most quarterback hits last week.

A unit that’s at less than 100% up front certainly doesn’t help Arizona’s chances at controlling the line of scrimmage.

DFS edge: Jhurell Pressley

Arizona got Jhurell Pressley, Larry Rose and Justin Stockton involved last week, but Pressley easily stole the show. Overall, the Hotshots’ No. 1 back converted 18 carries into 64 yards and caught a 30-yard touchdown.

Pressley is my No. 1 fantasy back this week thanks to both his hefty rushing workload and proven ability to thrive as a receiver.

Richardson is the bigger name and seems poised to boast higher ownership than Pressley considering their similar price tags ($7,000 vs. $6,900).

Bet to watch: Memphis +13

I don’t like betting on Hackenberg any more than the next guy, but 13 points is way too many for any matchup in a league that we still know next to nothing about.

I’ll take Memphis +13 and plan to start hating myself shortly after Hackenberg’s inevitable backbreaking first-half turnover.